Waterways : Ports – UPSC GS3

  • Approximately 95 percent of India’s trade by volume is transported by sea.
Current Status of Indian Ports:
  • India has 12 major ports and several minor ports along its West and East coast.
  • Capacity of major ports have increased from 870 million tonnes in 2014 to 1550 million tonnes in 2021.
Focus Areas:
  • To further the port-led development along the 7,516-km long coastline.
  • India will invest USD 82 billion in port projects by 2035 (under Sagarmala Programme), raise the share of clean renewable energy sources in the maritime sector, develop waterways and boost tourism around lighthouses.
  • India aims to operationalise 23 waterways by 2030.
  • Through the focus areas of upgradation of infrastructure, India aims to strengthen the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
Other Initiatives for Port Development:
  • The Sagar-Manthan: It is an information system for enhancing maritime safety, search and rescue capabilities, security and marine environment protection.
  • Ship repair clusters will be developed along both coasts by 2022.
  • Domestic ship recycling industry will also be promoted to create ‘Wealth from Waste’.
  • India has enacted Recycling of Ships Act, 2019 and agreed to the Hong Kong International Convention.
  • India aims to increase usage of renewable energy to more than 60% of total energy by 2030 across Indian ports.
Measures taken so far
  • Sagarmala programme : leads to port led development, improve coastal economy, modernize ports and integrate them with SEZ.it reduces the logistic costs of shipping
  • Industrial clusters are being created along the coast.
  • Port rail connectivity corporation has been created with the responsibility of connecting industrial hubs to various ports by trains.
  • Make in India gives impetus to the ship building industry
  • Port mechanization and modernization programme in order to enhance port infrastructure.
Measures needed:
  • In terms of infrastructure, it is important to maintain draft to serve bigger vessels, ensure mechanisation of ports through introduction of new equipment and procedures, build new facilities, upgrade existing facilities and automate systems/procedures.
  • In terms of policy and regulatory reforms, it is important to streamline tariff determination by TAMP along with a provision for periodic revisions
  • ensure transparent and effective contractual arrangements in PPPs
  • implement strengthened communication platforms for seamless information flow among stakeholders
  • strengthen system integration, ensure paperless clearance of procedures and transactions, develop user information portals, and so on.
Issues faced by various ports
Seaports displayed specific patterns of issues based on differences in geography, infrastructural capacity, operational aspects, contractual arrangements, and so on.
  • Haldia Port, West Bengal, being a riverine port, faces the natural challenge of heavy siltation and inadequate dredging capacities.
  • In Paradip Port, Odisha, there is issue of semi-mechanisation and manual handling of critical processes having a cascading effect on overall operational efficiency. It highlights the importance of complete mechanisation of processes to ensure seamless operations and thereby lower down vessel turnaround time.
  • Congestion at the approach roads is a common problem observed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Maharashtra.
  • Underutilisation of physical infrastructure in particular though is extremely prevalent at another private terminal — the Vallarpadam International Container Transhipment Terminal — at the Cochin Port.
Related Questions:
  • Describe the composition of export and import trade of India and the role of ports in it. (150 Words)
  • Despite its long coastline and strategic location on world trade routes, which gives it a natural advantage to control and direct shipments, India has not managed to get a dominant grip on shipping, even in its own continent. Critically examine why and suggest what India needs to do control and direct shipments in the region. (200 Words)
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